Senate Dems urge NIH to renew gun research grants

Senate Dems urge NIH to renew gun research grants
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Senate Democrats are calling on the National Institutes of Health to renew recently-lapsed funding for gun violence research following the Las Vegas concert shooting.

In a letter to NIH Director Dr. Francis Collins, Democratic Sens. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenBiden VP race is highly fluid days before expected pick Senate Democrats demand answers on migrant child trafficking during pandemic Senate Democrats push to include free phone calls for incarcerated people in next relief package MORE (Mass.), Chris MurphyChristopher (Chris) Scott MurphyOvernight Defense: Air Force general officially becomes first African American service chief | Senators introduce bill to block Trump armed drone sale measure | State Department's special envoy for Iran is departing the Trump administration Senators introduce bill to block Trump armed drone sale measure Pessimism grows as coronavirus talks go down to the wire MORE (Conn.), and 21 others joined Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersOn The Money: Pessimism grows as coronavirus talks go down to the wire | Jobs report poised to light fire under COVID-19 talks | Tax preparers warn unemployment recipients could owe IRS Senators introduce bill to block Trump armed drone sale measure Sanders offers bill to tax billionaires' wealth gains during pandemic MORE (I-Vt.) in saying that continuing the program is urgent.

“With 93 Americans dying per day from gun-related fatalities, it is critical that NIH dedicate a portion of its resources to the public health consequences of gun violence,” the senators wrote.

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Following the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012, President Obama directed health agencies to begin funding research into firearms. The NIH awarded a total of $18 million for nearly two dozen research projects.

But the funding expired in January and the agency has yet to renew it.

The Dickey Amendment, which was inserted into a congressional spending bill in 1996, has effectively stopped the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from studying gun violence.

The amendment prohibits the agency from using government money "to advocate or promote gun control.”

In their letter, the senators noted that while the amendment does bar research promoting gun control, it does not prohibit objective, scientific inquiries into prevention.

Obama also argued that research was not advocacy, which was what allowed the NIH to originally award grants.